If you are from my generation, then you recognize the title of my column as one of James Brown’s big hits from the 70’s. And if there was anyone who had good footwork, it was definitely James Brown!
In order to be balanced and have a proper stance when making contact with the ball while executing a ground stroke, we need to make sure that we step with the correct foot – aka our back foot – first.
Most right–handed dominant people naturally step with their right foot first. Most left–handed dominant people naturally step with their left foot first. This is the way we are programmed, and we have been doing it since our first steps as babies.
Stepping with our dominant foot first is fine for hitting a forehand, but it creates a pattern of steps which puts us on the wrong foot to properly transfer our weight and balance when hitting a backhand.
In order to resolve this issue, we need to re-program our feet to step with our non–dominant foot first when moving to our backhand wing.
Here is an easy drill that can help us from unconsciously and naturally always stepping with our dominant foot first.
With some sidewalk chalk, draw a two–foot by two-foot square on the court. Start by standing on the outside of the right side of the square. Begin by stepping into the square leading with your left foot, followed by your right foot. Once you have both feet inside the square, continue by stepping to your left – again leading with your left foot – out of the square then followed by your right foot.
You now have both feet positioned outside the left side of the square.
Reverse the entire motion, this time leading with your right foot, followed by your left foot, moving back through the square and ending up where you started on the outside right side of the square.
Continue going back and forth, stepping inside and outside of the square, always leading with your left foot first when moving to the left and with your right foot first when moving to the right.
This simple pattern will reprogram you to always step with your left foot first when moving laterally to your backhand side.
So, learn to put on some moves like James Brown and make sure you always “Get on the Good Foot.”
Wayne Clark is a professional tennis instructor with over 25 years’ experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction and is on staff as an instructor with The Naples Pickleball Center and Training Academy at East Naples Community Park. Contact Coach Wayne by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone or text at 239-450-6161